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The Pro Tour Blog is back and ready to rumble in Nagoya to bring you all the juicy tidbits of goings-on that would normally end up on the metaphoric cutting room floor. And, as always, we're inviting you to join in the fun. Are you rooting for a particular pro player and itching for an interview? Are you nursing an awesome story idea just waiting to get covered? Discuss 2005 Pro Tour Nagoya on our message boards and post your suggestions, comments, and ideas and we'll do our best to get you the insider scoop!



VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Jonathan Becker brings you the sights and sounds from Pro Tour-Nagoya.

  • Day 2 Wrap-up (5.5 MB zip)
  • Behind the Art of Kamigawa (8.9 MB zip)
  • Murray Evans' Harrowing Journey (3.4 MB zip)
  • Day 1 Wrap-Up (3.8 MB zip)
  • Introducing The Pro Players' Lounge (1.9 MB zip)
  • Living the Pro Tour Lifestyle (4.7 MB zip)
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Day 2 Blog: The High Cost of Jet Lag, The Mauler's Draft Strategy, the true Betrayer of Kamigawa, and much more!
  • 9:05 am - Welcome to the Pro Tour
  • 10:43 am - Plan B
  • 11:22 am - Plan A
  • 11:36 am - Why take any Chances?
  • 1:45 pm - Final (Dampen) Thought
  • 2:28 pm - Osyp Tears it Up
  • 4:02 pm - Class of Columbus Alumni Newsletter
  • 4:51 pm - Separated at Birth
  • 6:20 pm - Make a Wish
  • 6:49 pm - Two for two
  • 7:02 pm - Day One-and-a-Half Tales
  • 10:12 pm - Cool Little Factoid

  • BLOG

     
  • Friday, January 28: 9:05 am - Welcome to the Pro Tour
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Players are always nervous when they play in their first Pro Tour. A complex political format such as Rochester Draft can only complicate this for a beginner. Not only do you need to make the right picks, but there is additional pressure regarding which picks not to make -- knowing when to/not to counterdraft is almost as difficult as understanding pick orders, print runs, and archetypes by color combination.

    If you're gonna hurl, hurl into this.

    It's enough to make you sick. In fact . . . one player (who will remain nameless) sat down for his first ever Pro Tour event and looked around and saw at least six Pro Tour Top 8 appearances between the players on either side of him. He suddenly looked very green and glanced around nervously as his hand went to his mouth. He jumped up from his seat and looked around frantically. He spotted a trash can and proceeded to get sick in it. With that out of the way he returned to his seat and prepared to draft.

    If anyone else at the draft table noticed it, they said nothing. After all, everybody's a Pro Tour newbie once in their lives.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 10:43 am - Plan B
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • I settled in behind Anton Jonsson to watch his first draft on the weekend. Anton was the beneficiary of a fourth-pick Kitsune Blademaster and was well-positioned for white despite a second pick Kabuto Moth by England's Ben Twitchen. He looked to be blue-white by the third pack when he added Cage of Hands and Consuming Vortex by the time the first-pick marker wound its way around the table to him.

    He opened nothing useful and could scarcely believe it himself as he put the 6-mana Kami of the Palace Fields on top of his three other cards. This started something of a trend for Anton as his next couple of picks were pricey white fliers. By now, Anton's countryman Simon Carlsson was also in blue-white and Anton watched as the fifth pack was cherry-picked for Teller of Tales and Kami of Ancient Law while he had to take a wormy Kami of the Painted Road.

    Anton Jonsson was stymied in his attempt to solidify his deck.

    It seemed like Anton was destined to never see another tier-one common creature in blue or white. He did manage to pick up a second Cage of Hands along with Mystic Restraints. His next creature was the decidedly unglamorous Samurai Enforcers followed up by his second Consuming Vortex before his draft came to its crossroads.

    Anton had a choice between his second Mystic Restraints or a Dampen Thought and he divided his cards into two distinct piles. The first was his arcane spells with a couple of Ethereal Hazes, Consuming Vortexes, Eye to Nowheres, a Sift Through Sands, and the like. The other pile offered the potential to beatdown with five and six-drop fliers backed up by double Cage and Restraints. He took the maximum amount of time to make his decision and finally resigned himself by taking the splice-based path.

    Anton let out a bitter chuckle as the next pack offered him a choice between Teller of Tales and Eerie Procession. He thought long and hard about taking the ersatz second Dampen Thought but took the Teller instead, hoping that the rest of the table might let the tutor wind its way back to him. It almost made it all the way around by Chih-Hsiang Chang jumped on that grenade before it happened.

    The following pack was Anton's to open and he was greeted with Hikari, Twilight Guardian. Hindsight is 20/20 and he looked at the Eerie Procession he passed on last pack and shook his head sadly. The draft wrapped up with Anton -- in no particular order -- taking a late Reverse the Sands, blue Zubera, and a second Mystic Restraints.

    The two players between Anton and Simon continued to peck at cards that might get to Anton late such as an Eye to Nowhere and a Soratami Cloudskater. Anton was still shaking his head when the draft ended.

    "I don't know what happened," Anton said after the draft. "I don't want to be green -- I don't see how people win with green. I don't want to be blue-black either. That's about the only two things I don't want to be," he explained when I asked him what his intentions were when he sat down to draft.

    Anton ended up with a deck that was halfway between a blue-white evasion deck and a blue-white Dampen Deck. "This is a bad version of the Dampen Deck. I am missing the key cards. I need the draw-two cards (Counsel of the Soratami) and I need more Peer through Depths."

    He struggled to figure out the correct build for the deck and laughed as he went through his sideboard and held up a Reiko Lantern. "Did you notice how every pack had one of these? Although it as not as good as people think it is against this deck."

    Anton laid out 21 cards and tried to figure out his last card. His two choices were Reverse the Sands and one of his two Mystic Restraints. He had the opportunity to take an Eye of Nowhere over the second one but attempted to bounce it around the table -- it ended up in Hsiang's sideboard along with the Procession.

    "I probably should have taken the Eye. It would have made the deck right now over the Restraints. 8-mana spell it is…" shrugged Anton as he moved the Reverse the Sands into the played pile. "I have never played with this card before."

    When asked about the opportunity to pick Eerie Procession over Teller of Tales, Anton was still unsure about the pick. "It ended up being wrong when I got Hikari…and it might just be the wrong pick anyway. I don't draft this deck very often."


     
  • Friday, January 28: 11:22 am - Plan A
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • While Anton Jonsson went into the archetype somewhat reluctantly Quentin Martin -- who recently came to the Magic community's attention by drafting the archetype at Grand Prix-Paris -- is always ready to go in that direction.

    "I often force the archetype," Quentin said. "Today I picked up an early Peer and Reach but I always take those anyway -- just in case. Then with the seventh pack of the draft I got to wheel a Dampen Thought and a Sift through Sands."

    Quentin started out black-blue but eventually was able to pick up a couple of white cards to support the blue. He was very happy with how his deck turned out and even happier about it in the context of his draft table.

    "There was no hate in the entire pod. No Distress, No Hisuke's Defiance, no He Who Hungers -- that card is insane against my deck," he said.

    There was only a Cranial Extraction in the very last pack and he suspected it was a rare draft.

    The big buzz of the first draft was Columbus winner Pierre Canali's deck with four copies of Dampen Thought. He laughed about his good fortune.

    "The first Dampen did not appear until pack thirteen."


     
  • Friday, January 28: 11:36 am - Why take any Chances?
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Pierre Canali drafted four Dampen Thought

    Pierre Canali's good fortune in acquiring four copies of the deck defining instant got me to wondering about how many Dampen Thought you could expect to see in a 236-person tournament. I took a quick look through the decklists and counted them up. Out of 708 booster packs in the room there, were 23 copies of Dampen Thought. Sixteen of them ended up in the sideboards of 13 different decks. Among the players who "cacked" one or more copies were Jose Barbero, Jeroen Remie, Gabriel Nassif, and Bernardo Da Costa Cabral.

    There were only seven copies being played in four decks -- and four of those were in Canali's ridiculous build. The other three versions each featured one apiece. Canali, Anton Jonsson, Damian Lacroix, and Quentin Martin were the splice-happy players in question and I will be checking back to see how they fared after the first three rounds.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 1:45 pm - Final (Dampen) Thought
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Four players drafted a deck around Dampen Thought in the first pod and at the end of three rounds of play their combined record was 9-3. Both Anton Jonsson and Damian Lacroix were perfect at 3-0, although Anton did so without ever casting or splicing a single Dampen Thought.

    "I talked to Quentin Martin about my deck and he said I probably should not have even bothered playing the Dampen Thought," explained Anton. The real stars in Anton's deck were the two Teller of Tales, Ethereal Hazes, and the Reverse the Sands. "Reverse the Sands won me at least one game I had no other possible chance of winning."

    Pierre Canali -- he of the staggering quadruple Dampen deck -- finished the first pod of his first Limited Pro Tour with a 2-1 record. Perhaps his inexperience came into play here because he took his one loss with the help of an awarded game loss in round two for not registering his sideboard.

    Perhaps the most surprising result was Martin, who had four copies of Peer through Depths to help him find the key cards in the archetype that he helped popularize. He went 1-2 and did not get his first win until the third round, facing off against Canadian Jon Stern. Stern sided up to a 90-card deck but Quentin was able to beat down with Teller of Tales and win via damage.

    "I think I could have won by decking him though," smiled Quentin, who still seemed in good spirits despite his two hard-luck losses.

    Draft two is just getting ready to kick off and we will endeavor to find you a new theme for the next three rounds!


     
  • Friday, January 28: 2:28 pm - Osyp Tears it Up
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Osyp is such a bad boy!

    Osyp Lebedowicz was tearing up the second draft at table one -- literally. Osyp was growing increasingly frustrated with the player to his left during the second draft of the day. Japan’s Masami Kaneko seemed to be taking cards away from Osyp at every turn until finally the TOGIT player had the opportunity to snake a Cage of Hands that would have gone straight into Kaneko’s deck. Not only did Osyp counter draft it, he dramatically tore the card in half in to demonstrate his displeasure with Kaneko’s approach to draft.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 4:02 pm - Class of Columbus Alumni Newsletter
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Even before Gary Wise announced his Limited Skills all those years ago, Magic players always have a preference -- they are either Limited or Constructed specialists. With the Constructed Pro Tour receding beneath the horizon, I was curious to see how the Class of Columbus would follow up their Top 8 Constructed performances around the draft table.

    In order to advance to Day Two, a player mush have, at worst, a 4-2 record. Of the Top 8 players from Columbus, 75 percent of them were facing the prospect of sightseeing on Sunday as of round four, with only the finalists from that tournament sporting a positive win percentage.

    Pierre Canali 2-1
    Shuhei Nakamura 3-0
    Nicholas West 1-2
    Olivier Ruel 1-2
    Gadiel Szleifer 1-2
    Masashi Oiso 1-2
    Ryuchi Arita 1-2
    Geoffrey Siron 1-2

    Those six players with losing records were now in a single-elimination bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Four of those players found themselves sitting down in the feature match area as they began their gauntlet -- oh yeah, Constructed genius Gabriel Nassif would be joining them for a face-off with Siron.

    Nassif (left) battled Siron in a three-game match.

    Geoffrey Siron's red-black deck matched up in round four with Nassif's mono-black speed deck. Nassif's deck featured multiple Cutthroats, Ogres, Nezumi Ronins, Befouls, and Demons. The two players traded a pair of quick games. The third game started out as a race between Siron's Hearth Kami. It continued to be evenly matched until a fifth-turn Gutwrencher Oni held the rat at bay.

    Nassif allowed the Belgian player to pitch a card and then Pull Under-ed the Demon. Siron followed with Kami of Lunacy -- which would return the Oni if it died. Siron equipped the flier with a No Dachi and then moved it back over to his Hearth Kami that was holding the fort. Nassif sighed as his deck would not give him the Swallowing Plague that could turn the match around. He let his cards fall loosely to the table and congratulated Siron on his win.

    In the time it took for that match to conclude, the rest of the Class in the feature match area won their matches as well. Gadiel Szleifer knocked Antoine Ruel off the Day Two track with his blue-white Eight-and-a-Half-Tails deck. Olivier Ruel fared better than his brother in his match with Ichiro Shimura, taking him down in two games with a black-red deck. When the game ended, Olivier had two Cursed Ronin in play and more Swamps than Shimura had life points. Masashi Oiso also dispatched Ray-zer Yeh in two games.

    As for the unfeatured Columbus Top 8ers . . . Shuhei Nakamura continued to lead the pack with a 4-0 record -- a record which ensured that he would see Day Two action. Pierre Canali stumbled into the single-elimination rounds with a loss to Eugene Levin, dropping him to 2-2. Ryuchi Arita dropped from the tournament with his third loss. Nicholas West was still playing, although he had taken the fatal third loss in the fourth round as well.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 4:51 pm - Separated at Birth
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Something seems familiar here...

    Originally built during the Edo period, Nagoya Castle ultimately led to Nagoya's emergence as Japan's fourth largest city. The castle was destroyed during World War II and has been painstakingly recreated to become the city's top tourist attraction. Dozens, if not hundreds, of Magic players, judges, coverage reporters, and event staff have visited the castle in the last week, and each and every one of them was likely struck with the same notion as they gazed at their ticket stub which portrayed four seasonal views of the castle . . .


     
  • Friday, January 28: 6:20 pm - Make a Wish
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Zajdner's lucky button, thanks to a birthday surprise.

    Mark Zajdner went to the Hard Rock Café last night with a group of Magic players in town for the tournament. Jeroen Remie and just about every other Dutch player, Gabe Walls, and Mark's Toronto crowd all had a special treat in store for Mark. They told the waitstaff that they were celebrating Mark's birthday.

    Zajdner watched as the waiter brought out a piece of cake with candles, singing in Japanese. It took him a few seconds to realize they were singing for him. They gathered around and the whole restaurant joined in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday. They took a picture of the table and commemorated the occasion with a souvenir button. Mark was wearing the button today and apparently it was bringing him luck. He was 4-1 going into the last round of the second pod and locked into Day 2.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 6:49 pm - Two for two
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • "It's easy when the packs bail you out," was all Anton Jonsson could muster in the way of explanation of his 6-0 performance for Day 1.

    After sweeping his first pod with a blue-white Dampen Thought deck that never actually dampened a single thought, Anton did the same in the second pod with a blue-red Glacial Ray deck. He put the common through its paces and handed losses to Tim Aten, Jon Sonne, and Josh Ravitz -- the first for each of them during the tournament.

    I don't know that I have ever seen Anton truly happy with a deck he drafts or the prospect of making a decision. He seemed to feel guilty about his success because of an early mispick in the first set of packs when he took Orochi Eggwatcher over a Soul of Magma. Terry Soh was sitting next to Anton and took that as a signal to support his black deck with red. As a result of that switch Anton missed a shot at a Glacial Ray in the second wave of packs that ended up in Terry's deck.

    Anton was greatly relieved when Jon Sonne passed him that usually elusive second Glacial Ray in the third pack. Terry agreed that if Anton had simply taken the Soul of Magma that he would have probably ended up black-white and passed the Glacial Ray to Anton. Knowing Anton he would have simply found something else to feel bad about while mopping up the competition.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 7:02 pm - Day One-and-a-Half Tales
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • There is always some confusion whenever Pro Tour-Columbus is referred to as "the first Pro Tour of 2005." Even though it actually occurred during the 2004 calendar year, Pro Tour-Columbus was the first event in the 2005 season.

    Similar confusion is sure to ensue when players continue to play today after the conclusion of six rounds of "Day One" play. After six rounds of play, everyone with a 3-3 record or worse will be dropped from the tournament and the remaining players will be seated for a third draft today. They will then play one more round today -- the first round of "Day Two."

    Tomorrow those players who manage to keep their draft decks will play the remaining two rounds of their pod. Two more drafts, each with three rounds of play, will follow in order to determine a Top 8. There should be no confusion there as the Day Three action is completely self-contained.


     
  • Friday, January 28: 10:12 pm - Cool Little Factoid
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • And then there were two. After seven rounds -- and one-and-a-half-days -- of play there were only two undefeated players remaining (with an appointment to meet in the feature match area first thing in the morning). One was Anton Jonsson, and the other was local hero Ryouma Shiozu.

    It is interesting to note that both Anton and Ryuoma included the Mirror Universe-esque Reverse the Sands in their first draft decks of the day. Anton credited the card with winning him an otherwise hopeless game.

    We have already presented both of Anton's Day One draft decks, and in the interests of equal time I will leave you for the day with both of Ryuoma's 3-0 efforts.



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